The rise in New York’s poverty rate as a result of the ongoing recession has pushed nearly half of the city’s population into the ranks of the poor or near-poor. Ironically, the nation’s largest city is run by a multi-billionaire. Almost on the same day, another report came out saying “Hedge Fund Titans Get Lavish Paydays Stretching to Ten Figures.” People are immiserated and dumped into the streets because of decisions made downtown in the suites. Do we lend a helping hand to the poor? Barely. Let them eat op-eds about values and the virtues of hard work. There’s billions to fund the latest F-whatever fighter jet but scant little for people in distress. The pounding the needy are taking is particulary severe because much of the social safety net has been shredded. Can anyone say compassion and caring?
Barbara Ehrenreich is a social critic, journalist, and activist. She received a PhD in cell biology from Rockefeller University. In the 1970’s, she was involved with the nascent women’s health movement. After publishing an article in Ms magazine, she became a regular columnist there and with Mother Jones. She is the author of numerous books including such bestsellers as Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, This Land is Their Land and Bright-Sided. In 2012 she founded the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a website designed to place the crisis of poverty and economic insecurity at the center of the national political conversation.